Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 18 September 21:
Isaiah 36:4, 10, 9, 16 — “On what do you rest this trust of yours?… is it without the Lord that I have come up against this land to destroy it? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land and destroy it.’” …. How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master’s servants? …. For thus says the king of Assyria: Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern.”
Are you able to discern between a false ‘prophet,’ teacher or leader and a true teacher and leader? Do you believe everyone who says, “God put it on my heart to do this”? How confident are you in God’s Word? Do you validate others’ messages from the standard of God’s Word or what is commonly referred to as ‘common sense’? Hopefully, you are like a good Berean, examining the Scriptures daily to test the ideas and messages of others — “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
In our readings today, Jerusalem was surrounded by a mighty, undefeated king who threatened to utterly, ruthlessly, and horrifically destroy the nation. Addressing the Jews in their own language through a messenger, he claimed to speak for God and promised them peace and prosperity if they would surrender to him. Imagine the men standing on the city walls listening to the king’s words thinking about the fate of their children and their wives – what would you have done in this situation?
With seemingly impossible odds, with logic seemingly against you, with others seeking to guide you in self-proclaimed godly wisdom, and with no signs or wonders as a “confirmation,” would you have the confidence to trust in God’s Word alone? This false prophet king confidently and convincingly spoke for God, but his words were blasphemy – he replaced God’s truth with a lie in God’s name. There are many convincing false teachers today. Increasingly, influential people are claiming that God loves what the Bible says He hates. Do you understand God’s word well enough to know the difference, and do you trust God’s word enough to stand against popular false teachings? Do you have the confidence in your understanding of the truth to bet your life on it and proclaim it confidently regardless the personal cost? Hezekiah had Isaiah to help strengthen his resolve. You have the Holy Spirit; how much more fortunate are you?
Additional thoughts from today’s readings:
Isaiah 36:5 — “In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me?” You can’t serve two masters, and you can’t put your trust in both God and mankind. If you trust in God and make Him your LORD, you will naturally be at enmity with the world, and vice versa.
Isaiah 36:19, 20 – “Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’” The world will try to convince you that your faith in the One, True God is no different than the faith of those who diligently follow false religions. The secular world considers all religions equally valid or invalid. Of course, those who faithfully practice their religion consider all other religions invalid in some way. There are really only two religions in the world, the “Do” religion and the “Done” religion – salvation through a person’s efforts, or salvation through the work of Jesus Christ alone. Your faith must convince you, beyond any doubt, that Jesus is the only Way, Truth, and Life. Hezekiah had to remain faithful to God with the fate of the whole nation in His hands. Again, what would you have done in his situation?
Isaiah 36:21 – “But they were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s command was, ‘Do not answer him.’” There is no value in debating your faith with those who have vowed to war against it and have no intent to listen. You will not be able to influence someone who the Holy Spirit hasn’t convicted. Proclaim Jesus to everyone, but don’t argue with the fool. Let the Holy Spirit do the convicting and convincing.
Isaiah 37:1 – “As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord.” When you lack faith, go to the Lord – get closer to Him, not further away.
Isaiah 37:7 – “Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.” God influences and controls people where you can’t. God can change the heart of your adversaries. Powerful is the person who trusts in the power of God to do what He can’t.
Isaiah 37:30 — “And this shall be the sign for you: this year you shall eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs from that. Then in the third year sow and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit.” It may take years for God to answer your prayer. Do you have the faith to wait?
Isaiah 37:35 – “For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” God delivers those who are faithful to Him before unbelievers in order to reveal Himself to the world, not just to give His people what they want out of life. To receive the full blessings of God, you must live a life before others that truly seeks His will over comfort, security, and desires, a life that always points to Him.
Isaiah 37:36 – “And the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.” When you are trusting in God in accordance with His will, He will fight your enemies, and you won’t have too; and He will do what you could never do for yourself, again to reveal Himself both to you and to the world. If you rely on your own strength for your own purposes, the world will only see what you can do – that is no witness nor a powerful life.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 18 September 21: Today, evaluate everything you hear and see from the context of God’s word, and respond in accordance with God’s word, regardless the apparent cost of obedience. Trust God in His word and use your fidelity to give glory to God, always prepare to proclaim Jesus Christ as the reason for your faith, hope and love.